Followup on yesterday, I realized I didn't actually point out the discussions on why it is legal to transcribe copyrighted material for Braille, so I figured I'd post a links to some discussions on it. I'm in favor of giving the blind children books for free, if anything because I think that when you are stuck without the senses the majority have, having that spark of light in your life could be priceless.
Of course, they already have the Internet. :) Well, those sites designed by people who actually care about screen readers. I try to design my sites so they can be read by text-only readers. Yes, it means I can't use Flash (which I won't use anyways, no good editors in Linux), SVG (which I want to use more), or purely graphical elements. But, on the other hand, it means that the barrier to read my site for the blind or alternative operating system is as low as I can currently make it.
It's interesting. We have stories about libraries being shut down for the visual readers and poor, which is just as terrible, but the reason is because the Internet is fulfilling many of the easy goals that a library would. Assuming someone has access to the Internet, which the poor don't always have. Yes, there is nothing to the feeling of walking in the stacks, smelling the books, feeling the covers, but in all honesty, I haven't done that in years myself. I do prefer that in my own home, which explains why I haven't warmed up to the Kindle (well, and that whole DRM thing which is sickening).
Seeing my one and only book in PDF form doesn't even remotely give the same satisifcation as seeing it in hardcopy, sitting in my shelf. I can look at it every day and reach out and touch it and somehow, it is more real than the 30+ MiB PDF file sitting in a folder (chapter illustrations take up a lot of room). I could only hope that someday, I'll see it on a library shelf but... yeah, that won't happen. But, the next one, that one I can really hope to see on a library shelf. And in a bookstore shelf, you never know.
The world is changing on me, when it comes to the printed word. I can't say it is better or worse, just... different. And I'm excited and scared at the same time because I see people who read their stories on a PDF or laptop and enjoy it as much as I love reading a physical book, but somehow I can't really lose myself into electronic copy as well as I can in the printed word. Something about pages that don't glow and letters with sharp edges that gets it for me.
I used to say that books don't need power and they don't crash, but they also take up a lot more room and last week I had to toss a dozen books because of mold and damage from twenty years of abuse (i.e. reading and moving).
It's an interesting world out there.